Though the Americana Music Association is still planning to host its first “Thriving Roots: A Virtual Community Music Conference,” next week, it has canceled the Americana Honors & Awards show originally planned for Sept. 16 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
AMA executive director Jed Hilly announced the cancellation Friday, saying, “We’ve carefully evaluated safety measures both with an audience and without. It is our conclusion that if just one person walked out of the Ryman with COVID-19, we would not be able to forgive ourselves.”
The presentation would have been the organization’s 19th annual awards ceremony, with a slate of high-profile nominees including an Artist of the Year field featuring four women — 2019 winner Brandi Carlile, Brittany Howard, Tanya Tucker and Yola — and for the first time, one posthumous name: three-time winner John Prine.
Hilly promised the organization would celebrate its nominees and announce winners later this year.
Meanwhile, names are being added to the Thriving Roots conference roster, including Linda Ronstadt, who will make a rare appearance to discuss the premiere of Linda and the Mockingbirds, a documentary directed by James Keach about her 2019 trip to her grandfather’s birthplace in Mexico, accompanied by Jackson Browne and the music-and-dance troupe Los Cenzontles.
The three-day conference, being held Sept. 16-18 in lieu of the AMA’s annual AmericanaFest, is the first under the auspices of the new Americana Music Association Foundation, an education-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Virtual panels, interviews and dialogues are planned with several artists, including conversations between Carlile and Yola, Tucker and Lee Ann Womack, Judd Apatow and the Avett Brothers, Rhiannon Giddens and Taj Mahal with NPR’s Ann Powers, Browne and Mavis Staples, Bob Weir and Oteil Burbridge, and Lumineers Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz with M. Night Shyamalan. Rosanne Cash will discuss the history of protest music with Ry Cooder, Angela Davis, Bonnie Raitt and Alice Randall, Kathleen Edwards will speak with WFUV program director Rita Houston, and Change the Conversation cofounder Tracy Gershon and journalist Marissa Moss will moderate a panel with Brandy Clark, Tucker and Womack about issues facing women in country music. The full schedule is available here.
The foundation has also launched fundraising campaign; more information is available here.
For more information, visit americanamusic.org.